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Preparing to rebrand or create a new image for your business

Shane Fox

Getting a brand image for a business it absolutely fundamental.

You only have to look at a brilliant example of when it goes horribly wrong (and then right again) and what happened to British Airways in the 90s. Someone, somewhere thought that the nation’s favourite airline needed the royal-looking crest, Union Flag colours and general company image of high quality and class, updating. They spent millions and millions removing the Union Flag from the tails of all the aircraft and replaced them with, well, what can only be described as junior school artwork.

However, because it was instigated by the over-paid creatives at one of the world’s biggest agencies, it was sold to BA, implemented and spread across the entire corporation. Oh dear. Well, as the share price slipped with the general image of aviation dipping (and a threat from those cool dudes over at Virgin wanting to nick the Union Flag for their fleet), BA finally took back the National Flag-style branding and back to The Nation’s Favourite Airline they went.

Whether you are a local SME or a multi-national corporation, the principles of creating a new brand (or redoing a cocked-up one) are exactly the same.

Here’s our starter for ten that will get any sized business off the ground when it comes to creating that all-important new brand image.


1. Background & Overview:

– What’s the big picture?
– What’s going on in the market?
– What is it you’re going to deliver that’s different?
– What are the opportunities or problems in the market?

This is where you introduce the project to the creative team. You’ll go over this again in the briefing session, but write it down as well. If you write it down before meeting with the creative team, it will help you form what it is in your own mind before you have to explain it.

Example: You are a pharma company and want to launch a new line of household cleaning products under the brand name “Clean-o”. The marketing problem is the rapid rise of competitive brands like “Brighter” and are capturing a younger market. Your business goal, therefore, is to create a product brand (with the help of your creative agency) that will appeal to this generation of new consumers.


Objective: what is the goal?

Write a concise statement of the effect the brand should have on consumers. Typically expressed as an action, response and feeling.

Example: The primary objective is to persuade the audience to buy a new brand of washing powder called “Clean-o”, and to create and characterise this new brand so that it represents what the company and product stands for so that its consumers can relate to the brand.

Modern consumer markets with products from hi-tech digital devices to washing powder need to be apathetic to the consumer whilst also setting certain aspirational guarantees.


Target audience: to who are they talking?

An audience profile is more about how real people think, feel and behave than it is about numbers and percentages. The aim here is to paint a portrait of the audience – a verbal picture that the creative team can talk to and visualise.

Start with a few basics:

– Who are they?
– Where are they?
– How will we communicate with them?
– What else do we need to know about them?

Tips: Go beyond basic age, location and gender data to humanise demographic details with insights and lifestyle information. One way to do that is to explain how the audience currently thinks, feels and behaves in relation to the product category, to competitors, as well as to the client.

Example: We are looking primarily at urban women, 24 – 45, with household incomes over 50K per year. But the most important fact about this audience is that it is evolving, with race and ethnicity reflecting the increasing diversity of the UK population. The magic word is “multicultural.” We are not talking to white suburban housewives any more. At the same time, they buy cleaning products to clean. They won’t use weak or expensive products just because they are labelled ‘environmentally friendly’.

Keep in mind this audience does not have strong opinions or feelings about the product category (washing powders) and tend to use the same products out of habit.

What you like, what you don’t and why

One of the important things the creative team will want to know is if you have any pre-conceived ideas about what the new brand should look like. All-too often creative teams have wasted valuable time, effort and client budget on a rebrand and have come up with ideas based on the brief presented, only for them all to be rejected with the comment ‘”that’s not what we had in mind”. The natural (and correct) response is always – “well, what did you have in mind? Maybe you should have mentioned this in the briefing”.

So, to avoid those uncomfortable silences in the presentation, explain in the brief or meeting

  1. The brand images you like – the ones that you think represent a company well and the reasons why you like it.
  2. Then tell us the ones that you don’t like along with the reasons. You may not have a clear instruction “I really want it to look like this..” but it will give the creatives a general direction as to where to head and where to steer clear.

One more thing. Don’t under any circumstances allow the phrase “we love the Apple brand – we feel we want to reflect a similar image” to be uttered. Ever. Apple’s brand is theirs and reflects their business.

It may be they use specific font, colour or styling techniques you like – that’s fine and explain those reasons to the team – but above all, create the brand image that reflects YOUR business. Don’t be another Apple wannabe.

Focus: what’s the most important thing to say or show?

Here you want to identify the single most persuasive statement, or compelling visual, you can present to achieve the objective. Keep it simple. Avoid generalities.

Example: Clean-o washing powder uses a new, plant based chemical that aggressively targets and removes dirt, stains and grease – with zero harm to the environment. So, emphasising the natural aspect of the brand is important.


Reasons why: what are the most compelling reasons to believe, to try, to buy?

When it comes to creating a brand image, the supporting messages and tones are just as important – particularly when it comes to the promotional USPs (Unique Selling Points). List the rational and emotional reasons for consumers to believe what you say, to try the product, to buy the service. Include all major text points (headlines) and visual evidence listed in order of relative importance to the consumer.


1) It smells nice. It may be a cleaning product but it’s also a lifestyle choice and the smell (or fragrance!) is all-important especially when it comes to bedding

2) Dirt killer. New, scientifically advanced formula, aggressively targets and removes wide variety of dirt, stains and grease.

3) Earth lover. New plant based chemistry breaks down completely and naturally in the environment leaving no harmful chemicals.

4) Deal. Get a full size container of new Clean-o for only £1. This limited time, introductory offer will be via coupon affixed to the packaging.

5) Money saver. Save hundreds of pounds long-term with convenient, bulk refill companion products.

6) Waste eliminator. Exclusive powder scoop to measure the perfect amount of powder for the load size.


Also: what else might help the creative team?

Here’s where you can include consumer insights, memorable quotes, a description of the brand personality, positioning tag lines, creative thought starters, terms of the direct response offer, result expectations, and mandatory elements such as the logo and website address.

Oh, and be sure to include sources for additional research.


– Expert quote: “I’ve never seen a stronger, greener, plant-based cleaner.” Brian Cox, Professor Astrophysics, Cambridge University.

– The client would like us to develop at least one brand idea based on a real person playing a role. Think George Clooney from Nespresso, not the Go Compare man. You will get a box of promo reels of comedians / actors. Consider a celebrity.

7) Schedule: What do we need from the creative team, and when do we need it?

Here you can provide details on media – where do you need the brand to appear – adverts, packaging, websites, clothing, brochures – all of which will have to be considered when creating a brand as they need to work, regardless of the size.


A client services check list:

[  ] Do we need any supporting marketing for the brand? adverts, brochures, websites, packaging, Google adverts?

[  ] Do we have contact info / links to people, research or resources that can help the creative team?

[  ] Do we need a supplement to the brief with information on media production requirements or perhaps a content outline for a website or brochure or video.

[  ] Is it clear from the client what must be in the communication, and what might be in the communication? What are the client requirements versus client preferences?

[  ] Do we represent the client’s issues, concerns, wishes?

This is where you and the account manager provide some commentary about the project that is not captured in the formal sections above. More of an anecdotal and conversational way and points that can help as an aide memoire – this will help the creative team.

Creating a new brand or rebranding one that’s not right is not a case of finding some pictures and images on Google or clip art and using fonts from MS Word. If you do that, you will simply be letting your business and brand reputation down from the start. It takes planning and creativity to achieve a strong, powerful and effective brand.


Resources and templates

Because we’ve done this a lot, we’ve created some templates that you may find useful – please download them and use them – they’re free and will help you get the best out of the process.

Creative Brief Template: for anything from a rebranding, logo to a brochure or advert
Download a Word version here

Preparing for a New Business Website
Download a Word version here.

New Website Questionnaire: all the important questions to answer
Download a Word version here